‘Ozark’: Why Ruth Langmore Is Such a Conflicted Character

Ruth Langmore, played by Julia Garner, has become an iconic character in the history of television. On Netflix’s Ozark, she’s made herself dispensable with the Byrdes and the Navarro cartel. However, Ruth finds herself constantly conflicted with what action to take in life. Read on to find out why.

Ruth has come a long way from trying to steal from Marty

Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore in 'Ozark'
Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore in ‘Ozark’ | Steve Dietl/Netflix

When fans are first introduced to Ruth, she’s trying to steal cash from Marty (Jason Bateman), and little does she know at the time, the cartel as well. Once employed by Marty, she makes herself very useful and proves she can be trusted, while at the same time planning to steal from Marty again. Things get much worse when her father gets out of prison. Cade (Trevor Long) is vicious and doesn’t seem to truly care about anyone but himself.

Ruth has to watch out for herself because no one else is going to do it. She’s learned that the hard way. She has her cousins Wyatt (Charlie Tahan) and Three (Carson Holmes) to look out for since her uncles and her father aren’t doing the greatest job at being parental figures. The whole area has a bad outlook on the Langmores and that’s mostly thanks to Ruth’s father and grandfather.

Why Ruth is such a conflicted character

Ruth is conflicted between the life she’s always had and the future she could have. She isn’t always sure of her next move since both her father or Marty could sway her decision one way or the other. She finds herself conflicted between what her father wants and what Marty wants on a regular basis. She’s trying to move up in the ranks with Marty and the cartel, but her father is constantly pressuring her to steal from them. It’s a hard place to be and it leads to a lot of internal conflict for Ruth. She is conflicted about which move to make and so she finds herself in this weird place, which has to be stressful.

Julia Garner talks about Ruth’s ‘identity crisis because of her dad’

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Julia Garner spoke with The New York Times about season 2 of Ozark. She detailed how difficult it is for Ruth to be torn in two different directions. It puts her in a “vulnerable place” and it’s a strange time for her when her dad returns home.

“She’s in a much more vulnerable place. She’s really struggling and having an identity crisis because of her dad,” Garner explained. “With season 2, I think you have a much deeper understanding why she behaves like she does. People always go, ‘Oh Ruth is such a bad*** character — how does it feel to play her?’ And it’s much deeper than that. It’s more that she has no choice.”

Ruth is clearly torn between her father and Marty and it’s like two fathers are vying for her attention. It leads to a lot of inner struggle within Ruth since she is trying to please them both on a regular basis. “Yeah, and she hates the fact that her dad doesn’t respect her and Marty does, even though she really loves that Marty acknowledges her and listens to her,” Garner continued.

Even after Ruth’s father is killed off, she still struggles internally with how to proceed with her current situation in season 3. After she is beat by the KC mob and the Byrdes fail to retaliate, her boyfriend Ben (Tom Pelphrey) is killed. She finds herself conflicted again between Wyatt, her cousin, and Marty. She chooses to leave the Byrdes and go and help her cousin and Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery) at the end of season 3. She’s made her choice, at least for now.

Ruth Langmore is a conflicted character because of her past and her internal struggles that she has to deal with.